A Religion of Human Revolution—The Heart of a Lion King
The First SGI Online Study Lecture
The SGI recently released its first Online Study Lecture, a 40-minute presentation by SGI Study Leader Masaaki Morinaka, to provide a learning opportunity and source of encouragement to members around the world. It can be viewed by all SGI-USA group through national leaders between March 1 and 31, with the time and availability arranged by local organizations. The following are some highlights from this lecture.
SGI Study Leader Masaaki Morinaka began his lecture by praising SGI members around the globe for using their Buddhist practice to overcome the unprecedented challenges of the coronavirus pandemic, and to raise future successors of our movement.
In addition, he announced the material designated as the suggested 2021 study focus for members around the world:
> The New Human Revolution, volume 30; and
> The Wisdom for Creating Happiness and Peace, part 1.
Members can access the above material on the Soka Gakkai Global website, which was launched last November.
He noted that each SGI country can gauge and decide what material best accords with their particular circumstances.
This lecture focuses on the first installment of “A Religion of Human Revolution,” a sub-series of Ikeda Sensei’s monthly “Buddhism of the Sun: Illuminating the World” lecture series. Installments of this sub-series are also part of the study focus for 2021.
The Philosophy of Human Revolution
Mr. Morinaka began by describing human revolution as “a powerful philosophy focusing on changing one’s karma, helping others change their lives and finally even transforming the karma of an entire nation and the whole human race.”
Explaining the title, “A Religion of Human Revolution,” Ikeda Sensei writes:
Reform efforts that fail to take into account people’s well-being, or that lack respect for the dignity of life, will create only more problems and eventually run aground.
We must remember that the fundamental goal is people’s happiness. Stay connected to the people! Awaken to the dignity and preciousness of life! Change must start with people themselves! Now is the time for humanity to return to these basic points.
Given all of this, what should be the central guiding principles of religion in the 21st century? I assert that they are humanism and human revolution. (October 2017 Living Buddhism, p. 43)
Establishing Respect for the Dignity of All People
The first passage highlighted in this lecture is from “Letter to Niike”:
As the [Lotus Sutra] says, “hoping to make all persons equal to me, without any distinction between us,” you can readily become as noble a Buddha as Shakyamuni. (The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, vol. 1, p. 1030)
The word readily in the passage encapsulates two cornerstones of Nichiren Buddhism: 1) Ordinary people, just as they are, can manifest at this moment the same life state as the Buddha, and 2) Nichiren Daishonin established a practice by which anyone can do so.
By chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo while tackling the challenges of daily life, we cultivate our Buddhahood and infuse society with the power of the Mystic Law.
While we unlock our Buddha nature by chanting, it is more difficult to express it amid the realities of our world. This is why, Mr. Morinaka said, “We need the Soka Gakkai organization, … a network of good friends mutually supporting one another to carry out our Buddhist practice. And to practice this Buddhism correctly, having a mentor is essential.”
He cited this guidance from Sensei:
We take our mentor’s great vow as our own and, while courageously breaking out of our small, confined state of life, also encourage others as we advance together on the path to attaining Buddhahood. This is the way of human revolution as practiced by disciples united with their mentor. (October 2017 Living Buddhism, p. 45)
Buddhism Cherishes Each Individual
Next, he highlighted a passage from “Letter to Horen”:
The Lotus Sutra offers a secret means for leading all living beings to Buddhahood. It leads one person in the realm of hell, one person in the realm of hungry spirits, and thus one person in each of the nine realms of existence to Buddhahood, and thereby the way is opened for all living beings to attain Buddhahood. The situation is like the joints in a piece of bamboo: if one joint is ruptured, then all the joints will split. (WND-1, 512)
The word secret here does not mean it was purposefully hidden, but that it was previously unknown. The Daishonin made the means for attaining Buddhahood accessible to all people through the practice of chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.
Once we decide to live based on the Mystic Law, which enables us to believe in and tap the infinite potential that resides within each of us, we can discover a bright future ahead. We are filled with the courage to challenge ourselves. We can bring forth an intrepid fighting spirit, unflagging hope, steadfast determination and perseverance. We awaken to our personal mission, the purpose for which we were born into this world. Our view of life changes, and our way of living also fundamentally changes. Through our own actions, we can change our reality. (October 2017 Living Buddhism, p. 47)
Never Disparaging: A Perfect Example of Humanism
Mr. Morinaka then introduced a passage from “The Fourteen Slanders”:
Bodhisattva Never Disparaging of old said that all people have the Buddha nature and that, if they embrace the Lotus Sutra, they will never fail to attain Buddhahood. He further stated that to slight a person is to slight the Buddha himself. Thus, his practice was to revere all people. He revered even those who did not embrace the Lotus Sutra because they too had the Buddha nature and might someday believe in the sutra. (WND-1, 756)
Never Disparaging revered all people because he recognized their inherent Buddhahood. Sensei affirms:
No one is unimportant or worthless. Once we become aware of this ethos of respect for life and all human beings, the way we look at ourselves, at others, and our relationships with them, too, is radically changed. (October 2017 Living Buddhism, p. 50)
Mr. Morinaka continued: “[Bodhisattva Never Disparaging’s] unflinching belief and actions to respect the dignity of all people … is the hallmark of a practitioner of the philosophy of humanism. … Those who continue to respect others are carrying out in the reality of their own lives the Buddha’s vow to enable all people to attain enlightenment.”
By striving to bring forth the compassion and courage to engage with any kind of person, we open the state of Buddhahood in our own lives.
Lastly, he cited this passage in “Letter from Sado”:
When an evil ruler in consort with priests of erroneous teachings tries to destroy the correct teaching and do away with a man of wisdom, those with the heart of a lion king are sure to attain Buddhahood. Like Nichiren, for example. (WND-1, 302)
“This faith empowers each of us to become a lion king and develop inner strength,” Mr. Morinaka said, stressing that this is the key to genuine happiness.
He then offered two concluding points: 1) Every person is a Buddha. 2) We experience Buddhahood by striving to respect all people and engaging in dialogue to bring forth the highest potential in ourselves as well as in all others.
He concluded his lecture quoting Sensei’s November 2020 Headquarters Leaders Meeting message:
The drama of human revolution is one in which the greater our struggles and efforts for Buddhism, others’ happiness and the welfare of society, the more we are able to accumulate treasures of the heart and attain a boundless state of life filled with the “greatest of all joys” (The Record of the Orally Transmitted Teachings, p. 212), and to help others do the same.
We of the Soka Gakkai, linked by the bonds of mentor and disciple, are committed to encouraging and shining a light on each precious, uniquely talented individual. United in the spirit of “many in body, one in mind,” let us pledge together to impart great hope to our troubled world and exert ourselves bravely and vigorously to achieve the great spiritual victory of transforming the destiny of all humankind—a victory anchored in each of us developing a “vast heart.” (Nov. 20, World Tribune, p. 3)